SEO practices are encouraged greatly by all major business and websites. They can help give your website the exposure it needs make a significant impact in the market you want. This means it can be enticing to try and do whatever it takes to have the most effective SEO, but almost always, the most alluring tactics are black hat practices.
Black Hat SEO tactics are unethical and banned techniques that unfairly, inaccurately or illegally generate a high search engine position for a website. There are many different tactics from the mildly unethical to the downright despicable and depending on what you do, the consequences can be dire.
Why might you use Black Hat Tactics?
In essence, black hat SEO is highly effective at giving your website a high search engine rank in a very short amount of time. Furthermore white hat techniques require significant amounts of time and effort to see them become fruitful. So it can be tempting to speed up the process, to dabble on the dark side of SEO and get to that front page of Google in mere weeks.
However, maybe it’s not a malicious attempt to game the system, it might be an accident. It is perfectly easy to unwittingly engage in these practices, after all SEO is hard and if down badly it can all too quickly become black hat tactics. Also if you don’t know about black hat tactics, you might just think you’ve found a cool method that will give you that extra boost you need, unaware that’s it’s against the rules.
7 Most common Black Hat Techniques
It is possible to create one set of pages for ‘web crawler’ and one for humans; this is known as cloaking. This can be useful for targeted advertising or even just making a URL look nicer. It can also be useful for sending humans to a page with relevant content and the bot to a page that is littered with black hat SEO techniques. This tricks the search engine into thinking the page it is on deserves a high rank, when it doesn’t at all. For the fact that is can be a catch all in search engine optimisation malpractice, it is taken extremely seriously.
- Hidden Texts and Link
This is when you have a link or text, usually backlinks and keywords, on your website that the user cannot see, but is picked up by web crawlers. The main ways of hiding text are: using white text on a white background, making the font size 0, placing it behind an image, or having a link in a small character, such as a hyphen or a comma.
3. Bad Neighbourhoods
Backlinks: links to another site, are a major part of SEO. It is not okay to place a link over what appears to be a keyword, but in fact links to something unrelated altogether.
4. Keyword Stuffing
Keyword stuffing is spamming keywords on the website, either when they aren’t relevant, out of context, or so they can’t be seen. This can occur in many locations: Cloaked pages, hidden text, title tags, meta tags, comments, picture alt tags and even just in the middle of your content.
5. Article Spinning
Usually done by programs rather than people, article spinning is a taking an article and rewriting it so it appears to be unique and different, without actually changing or adding anything to it. These copycat articles are then given their own pages to live on; fill them back up with keywords and backlinks and voila, you have 3 new articles based on the exact same content of one descent article. Do this a couple more times and you can have dozens of articles stemming from a single piece of work, rewritten, rehashed and redone over and over again.
- Doorway or Gateway Pages
Pages that simply aim to achieve a high search engine ranking, usually using highly optimise keywords and a plethora of other black hat methods. Once people go to their website from Google, they instantly link to the real website.
7. Duplicate Content
When content is not original or unique, just repeated or plagiarised. This occurs in two ways, one your site has the same content on different pages, simply changing headings, keywords or titles. Or you are blatantly ripping content off other sites and putting it on your own.
If it is found out that you have been using black hat tactics, then Google will firstly filter out all of these results, so that your manipulation are not unfairly increasing your rank. This is fair and largely just results in the website receiving the rank it deserves.
Secondly, Google will actively lower your rank, so you do not have your natural position.
Lastly, Google will de-index you; this means you will not appear on a Google search, even if someone explicitly searches the name of your website. Being De-indexed can often mean the death of your website and is something you want to avoid at all possible costs.
SEO can be strenuous, complex work that requires consistency to become valuable. However black hat tactics are short-term, dodgy ways to achieve the desired rank you want. Often, they will lead to you getting banned from Google all together.